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We have something to say: How Ukrainian cities can compete internationally

Author : Iryna Ozymok

Source : 112 Ukraine

Despite the difficult situation in Ukraine, our cities are gradually developing and using international experience while introducing new technologies and providing services for a more comfortable, digital lifestyle. Zhytomyr became one of the first cities in Europe, where you can use a bank card to pay for a fare in a public transport
12:00, 24 January 2018

Journal of Zhytomyr

Today, 54% of the world's population already live in cities, and in the process of urbanization, another 3 million people move to the cities weekly. According to UN estimates, by 2050, 66% of the world's population will live in the cities.

Competition for the human resource among the cities has become a key factor of development today. That is why almost every city in Europe strives to become the most comfortable and innovative.

Progressive cities not only successfully implement technologies but also provide service for a new, more digital lifestyle. Airbnb and Uber have already become a part of our lives, thanks to which we are more mobile and efficient. That city, which not only develops similar apps, but uses the same service for a city dweller, will be ahead.

In 2017, Paris won the honorary title of the most innovative capital of the EU (iCapital), in 2016 this title was given to Amsterdam. Paris is the first city which demonstrated the world's largest startup-campus the size of the Eiffel Tower, located in a former railway depot. It hosts more than 1,000 start-ups, as well as companies such as Microsoft and Facebook. The second presented innovation is the transformation of an industrial area into a self-sufficient village of floating houses, which fully functions on biogas.

But why do Ukrainian cities keep quiet when they have something to say? In 2017, Zhytomyr became one of the first cities in Europe, where you can use a bank card to pay for a fare in a public transport. And Kyiv has become the greenest city in Europe with a population of more than 2 million people.

One of the most powerful tools for the city development is its collaboration with local businesses. In Ukraine, we can observe the beginning of such trend. For example, the Datagroup telecom company, one of the first in Ukraine, implements the Electronic Patient and Secure City services in the Gadyach city, in the same time Nova Poshta opens branches in small towns and villages, creating jobs and facilitating e-commerce.

Related: Ukraine’s primary housing market prices increase by 4.7% in 2017

This is, rather, an exception than a rule. Ukrainian business basically does not aspire to become a socially responsible, considering that they will have to give more than receive. However, a socially responsible behavior of companies is sometimes a critical factor when choosing a product or service. There is indeed a direct connection between the company's social value, its reputation and consumer loyalty. And those companies that are aware of this are already achieving greater success. Because they think about their consumer and their real needs.

Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” accounting organizations, has already developed the City Progress Index and presented the dynamics of Mykolaiv city development at the International Summit of Mayors, organized by Western NIS Enterprise Fund. The index demonstrates the city’s state and development prospects, which presents local opportunities for business. The dynamics of Mykolaiv's development in 2015-2016 is 3.99% based on monitoring 119 indicators, formed on the basis of quantitative (59%) and qualitative (41%) data, divided into three groups with equal weight: quality of life and working conditions, investment attractiveness, and institutional capacity.

Related: After crisis: How long will Ukrainian economy survive without reforms?

It is important for Ukrainian entrepreneurs to understand that city mayors are ready and fully opened to cooperate. Moreover, municipalities really need this, as they are limited in financial resources. And business can find new ways for its development. But the main thing is to work for the common goal, the development of Ukraine. After all it is beneficial to everyone: from city residents to entrepreneurs.

Despite the difficult situation in Ukraine, our cities are developing and using international experience while implementing changes. But for now they compete only among themselves. I hope that this year will bring Ukrainian cities not only innovative solutions to resolve local problems, but also new opportunities for cooperation, as well as confidence in their capabilities. And this year we will be able present successful projects of the cities of Ukraine at the international level.

Iryna Ozymok, founder of the International Mayors Summit and Local Economic Development Program Manager at Western NIS Enterprise Fund

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